In an effort to keep construction going on at the American Indian Cultural Center and Museum, state officials voted Tuesday to speed up financing of a $25 million bond issue for the Oklahoma City project.
Contractors are finishing a basement and exterior walls of the $150 million project and are expected to be done with that part of the construction in September, Gov. Brad Henry said during a meeting of the Oklahoma Capitol Improvement Authority, which authorizes bond funding for the construction of office buildings and other state projects.
State officials can't get a bond issue done that soon, Henry said. Jim Joseph, the state's bond adviser, said money from the bond issue — part of the $475 million deal approved by legislators at the end of this year's session — wouldn't be available until October at the earliest.
Authority members voted to seek interim financing from banks in the state to speed up the process. It's expected the move will allow money from the bonds to be available in September, said Henry, who serves as the authority's chairman.
The extra costs of interim financing would be offset by savings generated by keeping the contractor on site and by buying steel a month or so earlier, officials said.
Work to be paid by the $25 million bond issue will consist of building the rest of the walls and a roof, said John Richard, director of the state Central Services Department.
Private donors will be sought to furnish the museum, Henry said.
"Once the structure is in place it will be very enticing for Oklahoma corporations and others to contribute ... to help us complete the interior,” the governor said.